Charlee Fraser is an Indigenous Australian international supermodel that has scoliosis. Charlee has walked the catwalk for some of the most famous designers and graced the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and many more. She has represented and starred in several major designer cosmetic, eyewear and designer clothing ad campaigns.
SSS had the pleasure of interviewing Charlee about her scoliosis.
How old were you when you were diagnosed with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis?
I recognized my scoliosis around the age of 14 and was diagnosed shortly after by my family doctor. At the time of diagnosis, my doctor did not suggest a brace nor surgery but rather exercise such as swimming and yoga to help as a preventative.
How did you find out about spinal fusion surgery?
I later learned about spinal fusion surgery through a fellow model during a fashion show who had also suffered from scoliosis and had successful fusion surgery.
What type of surgery did you have?
I had a 40 degree right thoracic curve with right rotation and underwent posterior spinal fusion surgery of which two rods and seventeen screws were utilized to correct my spinal deformity.
What was the outcome of your surgery?
I suffered severe lower back pain prior to surgery and now very rarely experience any back pain at all. I also felt more in control of my movements and developed better posture.
Did you have any setbacks?
I recovered in a short amount of time with little to no setbacks. After having surgery all I really noticed was my flexibility had changed, it wasn’t non-existent, just different so I’ve since spent a lot of time learning and understanding the new ways in which my body moves and feels comfortable moving.
What were your emotions?
Pre-surgery I was excited! Upon diagnosis, I was not presented with any possible avenues such as a brace or correctional surgery and was delighted by the idea of having a choice. Post-surgery I was determined to resume life and lead my recovery with a strong and positive mind set. I honestly believe this helped me through my experience. I was in very little pain and returned to work after only four weeks.
Do you have any advice for others diagnosed with scoliosis?
Stay positive! It is a little daunting at first but understand that you have options and you are most certainly not alone. This is a part of who you are and a part of your journey. Take time to accept how it makes you feel a look for that silver lining. This life chose you because you are one of the few strong enough to conquer; so, share your story with pride and notice how others flock to see you shine.
What is your mission now (to give back, spread awareness, etc.)?
My mission now is to not only financially support research into spinal fusion surgery (whenever I can) but encourage others to work on positivity and optimism. I do this by sharing my story through multiple social media platforms, attending/speaking at events and webinars, and working alongside the Setting Scoliosis Straight Foundation in creating a comfortable space for people to learn and ask questions.
How do you feel you can use your modelling career to spread awareness of Scoliosis?
As above, I will always utilize my platform to spread awareness.